Saturday, February 2, 2008

Road Map to Oblivion

Jimmy Carter should probably be best remembered for his historic role in 1979, in creating the unthinkable; in producing a miracle: peace between Israel and Egypt. It was a spectacular diplomatic coup which earned him the Nobel Prize for peace and deservedly so. Fourteen years later, after fourteen years of Republicans in the White House that is, after fourteen years of unrest in the Middle East, William J. Clinton stunned the world by achieving what no one could possibly imagine: a handshake between Yassir Aarafat and Yitzak Rabin. It was a historic moment and was the first sign that peace between the Israelis and Palestinians was possible in some form.

Ten years later, George W. Bush unveiled his ‘Road Map to Peace’ in the Middle East. Since then, the Middle East has been plunged into new dark ages. It’s like watching a bad film.

- Lebanon’s tenuous peace after years of civil war began to break down. Rafik Hariri was assassinated.
- The Darfur bloodshed began.
- Iraq was invaded causing four million Iraqis to flee their country and seek homes elsewhere.
- A new cold war began with Iran
- A war was prosecuted between Israel and Hezbollah
- The Palestinians have split into two factions and talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis have broken down completely.

Not much of a road map – more of a recipe for disaster. The situation in Israel has become extremely dire. With the rest of the world focused on the American elections, the devolving situation in Afghanistan and the continuing disaster in Iraq, few people have time to cast a glance towards the so-called “Holy Land.”

A quick scan of reveals these two disturbing articles:

Residents of the West Bank village of Azun, near Qalqilya, discovered on Friday morning that someone had hung leaflets outside their houses and on their mosques, warning them to stop hurling stones at IDF forces, or else the soldiers would fire at them and close down their businesses.

As it turns out, the leaflets were hung by a soldier acting on his own accord. However few there doubt that the threat would have been carried out.

The next piece of news was regarding the protest march which took place yesterday:

Thousands of people took part Friday in a protest march in the Arab city of Sakhnin in northern Israel following Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's decision not to indict the police officers involved in the October 2000 riots, which left 13 Israeli Arabs dead.

The police officers should have been indicted – there was at the time a clear violation of rules and an excessive use of force. This was a unanimous feeling amongst the independent observers at the time. The West, which severely criticized Chavez and his government for opening fire on demonstrators, has been extremely quiet about this incident.

The Kuwait News Agency issued this report:

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Feb 1 (KUNA) -- Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shot and wounded five Palestinian mourners during a funeral in Beit Amer, north Al-Khalil, or Hebron, south the West Bank, Friday.

These three incidents have to be taken within the context of the Gaza lockdown which has left dozens dead and thousands without food, water or electricity. The recent breach of the Gaza wall into Egypt has alleviated much of the pressure within Gaza but is of course not a solution. Not unless, that is, someone actually wants the Palestinians driven out of there. Having turned it into one of the most inhospitable places to live, not entirely unaided by a thoroughly corrupt Palestinian sub-government and George Bush’s passive stance with regards to the region, Israel is on the way to destroying the foundation of what once was a promising peace process.

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